Public Access to the Smokey Jack Observatory

Reserve Star Parties Conducted by Star Guide Volunteers

This service is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

The Smokey Jack Observatory, Westcliffe, Colorado

The SJO is available by making reservations directly with the Master Guide, Mr. Clint Smith, who has volunteered to coordinate Star Guides with the guest party. Generally, the best (and warmest) months are May through September since the SJO is open to the environment to allow the telescope to be at a stable temperature with the outside air. At nearly 8,000', October through April can be unpleasantly cold, windy, and, of course, snowy. The Master Guide will make the decision whether to accept a reservation based on these weather factors, availability of Star Guides, and other appropriate factors he deems important. Additionally, please read the following bullet points carefully before contacting Clint.

  • To schedule a viewing session, you will need to take into account the phase of the Moon. The week centered on the full Moon makes viewing many celestial objects fainter than the major planets difficult to see. Visit this link to determine the moon phase on your desired date:  (Note: will open in a new window or tab.) If your date is within three days before or after the full Moon, please select a different date outside that range. Also give an alternate date in case your first choice is already reserved.

  • Then contact Master Star Guide, Clint Smith at: <> or call: 719-398-1284.

  • In your email to reserve a date, include your name, number in your party, if there are children under the age of 10, and a phone number where you can be reached shortly before your session is due to start so the Star Guide can discuss possible weather issues.

  • Plan on a 2-hour session (note: there are no restroom facilities available at The Bluff Park).

  • Temperatures drop rapidly after dark, suggest that you bring a hoodie, coat, or dress in layers.

  • Bring a flashlight, red is preferred, and only shine it downwards at the ground, never in someone’s eyes.

  • Arrive by the scheduled time in the parking lot on S. Adams Blvd. at the entrance near the bank.
      For more information regarding the SJO, see: Smokey Jack Observatory.
    Map to the Smokey Jack Observatory

  • If you have a special request, like wanting personal access to do advanced astro-imaging, please contact Master Star Guide
      Clint Smith at: <> or call: 719-398-1284.

Go to: Dark Skies website's Calendar page for the list of our public star parties